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Sha'Ron James

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David Altmaier focuses on 'assignment of benefits' changes


Date: August 18, 2017
Source: News Service of Florida


Florida Insurance CommissionerDavid Altmaiertold Gov.Rick Scottand the state Cabinet this week that his office will continue to push lawmakers during the 2018 Legislative Session to address an insurance practice that critics argue is driving up rates.

The practice, known as “assignment of benefits,” has drawn attention in recent years because of property-insurance claims involving water damage in homes. But it also has started to draw scrutiny because of claims for damage to auto windshields.

“We are aware of situations in which consumers are told that there is a crack in their windshield, and `we can replace it right here in the parking lot for you. We just need to sign this form please,’” Altmaier said during a Cabinet meeting Wednesday. “What this is is an assignment of benefits. They replace the windshield, and there is a dispute between the windshield company and the insurance company that goes to litigation. It begins to start to drive costs up.”

Insurers have repeatedly blamed assignment of benefits for increased homeowners’ insurance premiums. They argue the process has been abused by some contractors and law firms, spurring litigation and higher costs.

But contractors and plaintiffs’ attorneys contend the process helps force insurers to properly pay claims. Lawmakers this spring could not agree on changes to the practice.

“We believe that over the past several months and the past couple of years, we have accumulated a lot of very compelling information that would demonstrate that this is certainly an issue for our policyholders,” Altmaier said.